Currently, Secret Service agents at the White House are shown pictures of people who might be a threat, and instructed to look out for them.
But the Secret Service is looking to upgrade security to include facial recognition, which would be able to automatically detect people of interest using the White House’s closed-circuit television system, according to a privacy document released by the Secret Service. This process is starting with a trial run, where Secret Service employees can volunteer to be tracked around certain parts of the White House.
There are two locations around the White House that will be part of the test, with one including part of the sidewalk and street, the Secret Service document says. The Secret Service declined to say which company is providing the facial recognition technology.
While the trial is only looking for people who have opted into the program, the test is taking place in a public space, meaning everyone who passes through that area around the White House will be analyzed by the facial recognition system. However, the Secret Service document details that only images of people the system thinks are a match will be stored as data to further train the system. All facial image data will be deleted by August 30, 2019, when the pilot ends.
The document does note that members of the public could accidentally have their faces retained if the system erroneously matches them to someone in the database of volunteer Secret Service members. The photos are manually reviewed later so those false positives can be identified and deleted.